Today, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he hopes to finance his plans to colonize Mars by making SpaceX’s entire fleet of vehicles — the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy, and the Dragon spacecraft — obsolete.
Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress, Musk said that SpaceX will eventually start stockpiling these vehicles and then focus all of its resources into developing the company’s next monster vehicle: the Interplanetary Transport System, codenamed the BFR (for Big Fucking Rocket).
Musk is planning to scale down the ITS, proposing 31 main engines this year. Last year at the same conference, Musk unveiled the combo rocket-and-spaceship’s design, which included 42 main Raptor engines that could send up to 450 metric tons to Mars. Most of the rest of the major design elements, such as in-orbit docking and landing propulsive landing, remained the same.
Musk also proposed a variety of new uses for the scaled-down rocket beyond just going to Mars. Supposedly, the ITS can be used to launch satellites, take cargo to the International Space Station, and even do lunar missions to set up a Moon base. SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 fleet is used to do a few of those things already, but Musk says eventually the company will turn to the ITS to do all of its space missions.
“We can build a system that cannibalizes our own products, makes our own products redundant, then all the resources we use for Falcon Heavy and Dragon can be applied to one system,” he said at the conference.